Jan 6 2014, 1:35pm CST | by Forbes
The simple act of text messaging may take us step closer to smarter homes.
LG Electronics has unveiled a virtual assistant service that lets customers text their wireless home appliances through the messaging service LINE; the appliances made by LG will be enabled with its new, HomeChat technology.
The devices including fridges and televisions will use natural language processing to understand commands or status-update requests that owners sent to them through LINE, the one of the world’s biggest messaging platform with more than 310 million registered users and counting.
The service rolls out in 2014 with LG’s range of smart vacuums, ovens and fridges and other appliances, LG’s chief technology officer, Scott Ahn, announced the service at the Consumer Electronics Show on Monday.
LG says that users could for instance text “I’m going on vacation” to their appliances, who in turn would reply with “Should I convert to vacation mode?” That would lead the LG smart fridge revert to a power-saving mode or LG’s robotic vacuum cleaner, the HOM-BOT SQUARE, to clean at set times.
Users could also send a text to the HOM-BOT asking “When did you last clean?” to which it might reply, ”10:50 started cleaning with zigzag mode; 11:30 completed cleaning with zigzag mode,” according to LG. Text “What are you doing?” to the LG washing machine and it should reply with details on where it is in the wash cycle.
LINE users could also communicate with the LG Smart Oven, asking it to recommend recipes while allowing it to auto-select the relevant cooking mode.
LG says that its HomeChat service was specifically designed to work with LINE. This means LG is taking advantage of a platform already in use on millions of smartphones, without having to create an entirely new remote control system for its appliances.
LG did not release details about the partnership with LINE, but it sounds like a service that could become another source of revenue for one of the world’s biggest messaging platforms.
Among competitors like WeChat, WhatsApp and Kik, LINE has been relatively successful in making money through selling digital stickers and games through its platform; the services made up 80% of LINE’s $154 million revenue in the third quarter of 2013.
LINE could not be reached for comment, but LG is interested in partnering with other messaging apps on its HomeChat service, Ahn said during this announcement. An obvious candidate would be KakaoTalk, since both companies are based in South Korea.
Given how closely LG and Samsung tend to follow one another with product announcements, it may be that Samsung has already been working on a similar service with its own smart appliances, and its own messaging partnership too.
Source: Forbes Business
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